ANKARA Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan ordered his ambassadors to redouble efforts in "telling the truth" to allies that a graft investigation shaking Ankara was nothing other than a treacherous plot to sabotage Turkey's international standing.
The graft investigation emerged on December 17 with the detention of dozens of people including businessmen close to the government and three cabinet ministers' sons and has grown into one of the biggest challenges of Erdogan's 11-year rule.
"We expect you to exert more effort to defeat this treacherous operation targeting Turkey by telling our partners the truth," Erdogan told the conference of ambassadors in the capital Ankara.
Erdogan's supporters view the corruption inquiry as a plot to undermine him orchestrated by U.S.-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, a former ally whose network of followers is influential in the police and judiciary.
"They are trying to deal a heavy blow to Turkey's economy. They are making efforts to push interest rates higher. In order to make international investors uneasy they use every means.
"Most importantly they are working hard to harm Turkey's image in the world," he added.
(Reporting by Tulay Karadeniz; Writing by Daren Butler; editing by Ralph Boulton)